Tag Archives: martina navratilova

Martina Navratilova proposes to girlfriend on big screen at US Open

Tennis great Martina Navratilova proposed to her girlfriend on the big screen of Arthur Ashe Stadium between the U.S. Open men’s semifinals.

Navratilova popped the question to Julia Lemigova in the Tennis Channel suite Saturday, drawing a loud cheer from the crowd.

“I was very nervous,” Navratilova said later. “It came off. She said yes. It was kind of an out-of-body experience. You’ve seen people propose at sporting events before, in movies, in real life. Here it was happening to me. It was like I was watching myself do it.”

The 57-year-old Navratilova won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, a mark she shares with Chris Evert. Serena Williams will try to match it in Sunday’s women’s final.

Navratilova said somebody suggested she propose during a changeover in the first match between Kei Nishikori and Novak Djokovic, but she didn’t want to disturb the players in any way. The only problem was that Navratilova was later scheduled to play a “Champions” doubles match with Jana Novotna against Tracy Austin and Gigi Fernandez. She tried unsuccessfully to get the start postponed without telling anybody why, so she was fretting that the Nishikori-Djokovic match would go five sets. Fortunately, it ended in four.

After the triumph in her personal life, Navratilova was also victorious in doubles.

When Navratilova walked into the locker room to get ready for the match, Austin didn’t know anything about what had just happened. The two chatted for a few minutes before Navratilova mentioned the proposal in passing.

Austin then made her re-enact the whole thing.

Navratilova said she and Lemigova would prefer to get married in Florida, where they live. A federal judge ruled last month that the state’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, but Florida officials are appealing.

Navratilova reminisced about her 1981 U.S. Open finals loss to Austin, when the fans gave her a long ovation as the runner-up, as the first time she felt accepted as a newly minted American citizen and a gay woman. Thirty-three years later, gay couples can marry in 19 states and the District of Columbia, and Navratilova’s proposal got another big cheer from the U.S. Open crowd.

In the game… WiG’s annual Pride pop quiz

No doubt you know the words to “Go! You Packers! Go” and the name of that guy who wears No. 12 — maybe you know his career passing yards.

And probably you know which Major League Baseball team is No. 1 in the National League’s Central Division and how many games are left until the All-Stars head for Minneapolis.

But how do you score on WiG’s LGBTQuiz?

1. True or False: Michael Sam, the first openly gay player in the NFL, recently signed a $2.65 million contract with the Chicago Bears.

2. Which basketball player came out in a cover story in Sports Illustrated?

3. She’s won 39 Grand Slam titles and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Her name is …

4. He is the only male and the second diver in Olympic history to sweep the diving events in consecutive Olympic Games.

5. This gay baseball player, who died of AIDS in 1995, is credited with inventing the high five when he played for the Dodgers.

6. Her Twitter bio says, “Used to play tennis, now just talk about it on tennis channel. like to talk politics, though some would rather I stick to tennis :). No chance!!!”

7. She had to go to court to play and, after transitioning, she competed in the U.S. Open.

8. He played. He retired. He came out. Then he returned to the soccer field.

P.S. Yes, we’re aware this would be more difficult without the photographs…

Answers: 1. False, he signed with the St. Louis Rams. 2. Jason Collins, who played with the Nets in 2014. 3. Tennis legend Billie Jean King. 4. Greg Louganis. 5. Glenn Burke. 6. Martina Navratilova, considered by many in the sport to be the greatest 

female tennis player. 7. Tennis player Renee Richards. Paired with Betty and Stuart, Richards lost in doubles at the open to Navratilova and Betty Stove. 8. Robbie Rogers, the first openly gay man to join Major League Soccer. 

 

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Navratilova, Collins speak out against homophobia

Former professional basketball player Jason Collins and tennis great Martina Navratilova this week urged world sports bodies such as the International Olympic Committee and FIFA to take gay rights into consideration when awarding major sporting events.

The two openly gay athletes spoke at a special United Nations event celebrating International Human Rights Day.

They focused in part on the upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia, which passed a law this summer banning gay “propaganda.” The law has drawn international condemnation and sparked calls for a boycott, though no nations have threatened to pull their athletes.

Navratilova, who lost lucrative endorsements when she came out in 1981, said she doesn’t support boycotts of any kind. But she said the IOC is “putting its head in the sand” and criticized FIFA, the world soccer body, for awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar.

“Nobody’s talking about Qatar and the World Cup. You can get a jail term there,” she said of consensual gay sex in the Persian Gulf nation. In six other countries, including Saudi Arabia, simply being gay is punishable by death, she said.

“Gays and lesbians seem to be the last group it’s seen as OK to pick on,” she said.

The two athletes also joked about how times have changed for gay rights in the U.S.

“When Collins came out this year, he got a phone call from President Obama congratulating him,” Navratilova said. “Well, in 1981, Reagan was president. I didn’t get that phone call.”

“It’s funny, right before President Obama, it was Oprah Winfrey,” Collins added. “Like a surreal experience.”

Collins almost shyly thanked Navratilova for being so outspoken.

“I’m sitting next to one of my idols,” he said.

North America’s major pro sports leagues are still awaiting an openly gay athlete on the court or field. Collins, 35, was prepared to become the first when he came out after the NBA regular season had ended. The aging reserve player and free agent has not been signed by another team, though he says he stays in shape and hopes to return to the NBA.

Collins said the league is doing a “great job changing the culture of sport” in regard to gay players.

In a recorded message, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also praised straight athletes who speak out against homophobia. “They understand an abuse against any of us is an affront to all,” he said.

In a related event this week, U.S. ambassador Samantha Power called the Russian law “as outrageous as it is dangerous.”

Power, who was meeting with dozens of gay activists from around the world, said 78 countries still have laws that criminalize consensual sex between adults.

“To deny gays and lesbians the right to live freely … is in fact barbarian,” Power said.

This year was the first time the U.N. held a ministerial meeting on LGBT issues, with Secretary of State John Kerry attending. “That’s progress,” Power said.

Russian journalist and gay right activist Masha Gessen then read part of the Russian law on gay “propaganda” and said, “It actually enshrines second-class citizenship and makes it a crime to talk about equality.”

Zambian activist Juliet Mphande listened to Gessen’s comments and said, “I imagine Russia to be an African country right now.” She said at least six people from her country’s gay community had been arrested this year.

Gay and lesbian sports hall of fame announces 1st inductees

The National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame will induct its first members in early August. Nominations are still taking place but founders have announced the first – and probably most famous – inductees.

The Chicago-based hall of fame is inducting Glenn Burke, Christina Kahrl, Renee Richards, Martina Navratilova, Greg Louganis, Billie Jean King, Jason Collins, LZ Granderson, Dr. Tom Waddell, Orlando Cruz, Andrew Goldstein, Ben Cohen, Jerry Pritikin, the Chicago Cubs, Outsports.com, the International Gay Rodeo Association and Anheuser-Busch.

Founder and executive director Bill Gubrud said the hall, the fame is the first institution of its kind in the United States, was established “to honor individuals and organizations whose achievements and efforts have enhanced the fields of sports and athletics for the gay and lesbian community.”

He added that the nonprofit will “recognize those who have stood up to stereotypes and worked to break down the walls of differences to bring people together for the good of the games.”

Nominations for inductions will continue until July 1 at www.gayandlesbiansports.com.

The first induction ceremony will take place on Aug. 2 at the Center on Halsted. That’s the day before Out at Wrigley, the nation’s largest gay day at a major league sporting event.

LGBT executives gather in London for workplace summit

Hundreds of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender executives and their allies gathered in London this week to focus on advancing equality in the workplace.

The Out & Equal 2012 Global LGBT Workplace Summit took place July 5-6 in the capital already bustling with preparations for the Olympics and celebrating gay Pride.

A press statement said executives represented more than 26 countries and more than 80 operations at the event at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel. About 350 people attended.

Their goal was to share best practices and discuss how to make LGBT people feel safe, accepted and valued. The event featured a gala, speeches and workshops.

Out & Equal’s founding executive director Selisse Berry, said, LGBT people want to “love who we love,” sharing her conviction that, “love is stronger than prejudice, love is stronger than injustice, and love is stronger than inequality.”

IBM vice president Claudia Brind-Woody spoke at the event, introducing Harry van Dorenmalen, chairman of IBM Europe.

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova attended and talked about the power of being out.

“The biggest thing we can do is to be out. When we make it personal, it’s harder for people to be prejudiced,” she said.

“Silence,” she continued, “equals consent … go home, and come out to your preacher, come out to your teachers, come out to those at your post office. No one ever wants to go back into the closet once they’re out.”

LGBT Capital founder Paul Thompson spoke about LGBT buying power and the growing global LGBT market.

Judy Dlugacz of Olivia talked about the ongoing struggle for equality: “Just because we get our rights does not mean that homophobia is gone … culture doesn’t shift as quickly as the laws may.”

The event ended with a gala that included an awards program and a speech by former NBA basketball player John Amaechi. He said, “The tiny things that we do in our workplace are the most important in reaching our goals. A pathway is illuminated before you, where you believed none existed before.”

On the Web: www.outandequal.org

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Martina Navratilova joins ‘Dancing With the Stars’

Tennis legend Martina Navratilova is waltzing onto “Dancing With the Stars.”

She’s joining singer Gladys Knight and National Football League player Donald Driver and other celebrity contestants on the next season of the ABC dancing competition.

Other famous faces participating in the 14th edition include “The View” co-host Sherri Shepherd, singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw, “Little House on the Prairie” actress Melissa Gilbert and Disney Channel star Roshon Fegan.

The new cast, which also includes “Melrose Place” actor Jack Wagner, “Family Matters” actor Jaleel White, telenovela star William Levy, operatic singer Katherine Jenkins and “Extra” co-host Maria Menounos, was announced on Feb. 28 on “Good Morning America.” The contestants will dance their first routines with their professional partners March 19 and March 26, and the first couple will be eliminated March 27.

Last season, actor J.R. Martinez and professional partner Karina Smirnoff took home the mirrorball trophy with reality TV star Rob Kardashian and partner Cheryl Burke coming in second place in front of former talk show host Ricki Lake and partner Derek Hough. Other previous champions include “Dirty Dancing” actress Jennifer Grey, Pussycat Dolls singer Nicole Scherzinger and gymnast Shawn Johnson.

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Navratilova holds court at Australian Open

Martina Navratilova never shirked a challenge in her glittering tennis career, and she isn’t shy about giving an opinion either.

The winner of 167 singles titles and one of the greatest players faced a news conference at the Australian Open on Monday and addressed issues ranging from Margaret Court’s criticism of same-gender marriage to prize money at Grand Slam tournaments.

Eyebrows were raised when Navratilova’s first match in the legends’ doubles Sunday was scheduled for Margaret Court Arena, AP reported. The 55-year-old Navratilova didn’t even consider a boycott. Instead, the longtime advocate for gay rights wore a rainbow-colored patch on her sleeve as she and Nicole Bradtke beat Martina Hingis and Iva Majoli.

The 69-year-old Court, an 11-time Australian Open champion who is now a Christian pastor, caused a stir before this year’s tournament when she told media in Western Australia that “politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take.”

Navratilova was gracious when talking about the venue and scheduling of her opening match.

“Playing on Margaret Court Arena, it’s an honor, as always, to be on that court,” Navratilova said. “You know, it’s not a personal issue. Clearly Margaret Court’s views that she has expressed on same sex marriage, I think are outdated.

“But it’s not about any one person. It’s not about religious rights, it’s about human rights. It’s a secular view, not a religious view.”

Navratilova said she hadn’t spoken to Court for years.

“She was all about Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. She repeated that about four or five times, so I just felt I couldn’t get through to her,” Navratilova said. “Maybe she thought she could get through to me.”

In a career spanning 33 years, Navratilova won 167 titles in singles, and 177 in doubles. She won the first of her 18 Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon in 1978 to claim the top ranking for the first of a total of 332 weeks.

She refuses to criticize Caroline Wozniacki, who has been No. 1 since October 2010 but hasn’t won a major and reached her only Grand Slam final at the U.S. Open in 2009.

A system that doesn’t place enough importance on the quality of opponents a player has beaten is to blame, according to Navratilova, who believes Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova had a claim to be considered the true No. 1.

“It weighs too much on quantity and not enough on quality,” Navratilova said of the points-based rankings system. “They both get to a semis and one player beats No. 1 player and No. 3 player to get to the semis, and the other one gets qualifiers and they get the same amount of points. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Navratilova has spoken to the WTA, which runs the women’s tour, but doesn’t know if any officials are listening.

“Maybe they will hear it now,” she said. “But I asked are they changing the system, and they have no intention to. I think it’s a mistake.”

Navratilova’s next conversation might be with Grand Slam tournament organizers over the vexed issue of prize money.

The subject came to light on the eve of the Australian Open following a meeting of the men’s players. Many of them believe that prize money has not increased in line with growing profits at the four majors – and some are prepared to go as far as striking to make their point.

“I think the Grand Slams are making a lot more than they’re sharing with the players. I think that’s a fact,” Navratilova said. “When the players try to talk to them, the Grand Slams are like, ‘Oh, well. Get lost. Too bad.’

“If the men and women got together I think the Grand Slams would listen. The players made the slams big and the slams made the players big. It’s a very symbiotic relationship, but the slams are ruling the roost. They dictate everything to the players.”

Multimillionaire players complaining about how much they earn doesn’t often garner much sympathy from fans, but Navratilova says the point is still valid.

“Compared to what a teacher is making, we are grossly overpaid,” she said. “Compared to what the slams are netting, they are underpaid.”

Prize money has come a long way since Navratilova’s day though.

“I think I won $6,000 when I got to the finals here in ’74,” she said. “Which I needed to make so I could pay the airline ticket back to the States.”

The men’s and women’s champions at the Australian Open will each receive $2.4 million in prize money, with the losing finalists getting $1.2 million. The 64 men and 64 women who lost in the first round of singles received $21,800.

Source: AP

Activists showing no love for Court at Australian Open

Nearly 40 years after she won the last of her 11 Australian Open singles titles, Margaret Court is still creating news at Melbourne Park. This time, though, the now Christian pastor has sparked controversy over her anti-gay comments.

The AP reported that Court has claimed homosexuality has tarnished women’s tennis and she has been vocal in her opposition to gay marriage, opinions which have put her offside with former WTA tour stars Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King.

The issue has helped create a Facebook group, “Rainbow Flags Over Margaret Court Arena,” which is urging spectators to display rainbow-colored gay Pride banners at the showcourt during the Australian Open, which starts today.

Rennae Stubbs, an Australian who has won four Grand Slam doubles titles, said she supports activists who might show their support for gay rights at Margaret Court Arena.

“Margaret has said her feelings and it’s public, and it has leverage,” said Stubbs, who has been open about her orientation. “So I think this is the only way the people feel that they can be heard, through a sign of solidarity. As long as it (a protest) is done tastefully, that’s the most important thing for me.”

Court, 69, recently told local media in Perth, Western Australia, where she now lives that “politically correct education has masterfully escorted homosexuality out from behind closed doors, into the community openly and now is aggressively demanding marriage rights that are not theirs to take.”

“The fact that the homosexual cry is, ‘We can’t help it, as we were born this way,’ as the cause behind their own personal choice is cause for concern,” added Court, who won her last Australian Open title in 1973.

Navratilova told TennisChannel.com that “seems to me a lot of people have evolved, as has the Bible. Unfortunately, Margaret Court has not … her myopic view is truly frightening as well as damaging to the thousands of children already living in same-gender families.”

Kerryn Phelps, former president of the Australian Medical Association and one of Australia’s most influential gay spokeswomen, has called on the Victoria state government and Tennis Australia to drop Court’s name from the 6,000-seat show court arena named in her honor.

“Time to rename Margaret Court Arena,” Phelps tweeted.

Tennis Australia said in a statement that although it respects Court’s playing record as “second to none … her personal views are her own, and are definitely not shared by Tennis Australia.”

“Like the WTA, we believe that everyone should be treated equally and fairly … TA does not support any view that contravenes these basic human rights.”

Source: AP

Served-up

“Unmatched,” a new documentary on ESPN, examines the off-court friendship and on-court rivalry between tennis champs Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. They played one another more than 80 times – often for the big prizes on grass or clay. The media fed on the competitive nature of their game and helped manufacture their public images – America’s blonde sweetheart vs. Czechoslovakia’s bratty defector.

The hour-long film offers a more sophisticated and sensitive profile of the true pals, along with a lot of chuckles. Of the first time she saw the 16-year-old Navratilova, Evert says, “I remember that she was fat. She was very emotional on the court, whining if she didn’t feel she was playing well. But I remember thinking, if she loses weight, we’re all in trouble.”

She lost weight.